I had a blind date meeting the lovely Skinny Bib for the first time at Tapas Brindisa. (Look at the Skinny Bib’s excellent write up here, I almost have nothing to add!) Unfortunately the food was not as pleasant as the company.
Tapas Brindisa in Soho has just opened a couple of weeks ago (there was ‘Tierra Brindisa’ before) and we went in the soft opening period with 20% off the food. Its older brother on the corner of Borough Market has been around what seems like forever and is always completely packed. I ate there once and was not as blown away by the food as many others. Mind you, Spanish is not my favourite cuisine and so I might need a little bit more then just ‘good’ to convince me.
Convinced I was not by new Tapas Brindisa. But let’s start with the some positive notes. I did love the space of the Soho joint which is bright with rustic wood furniture and direct view of the kitchen. We went on a sunny day and the room was bathed in beautiful light.
But now the food. For me the highlight of the meal was the the Pan de Coca (3.50), basically pan con tomate which I couldn’t get enough of on my holiday in Catalonia. Toasted country bread is rubbed with garlic and ripe tomato and drizzled with olive oil. Yum! But in the end it’s just bread and doesn’t require a huge amount of cooking skill. I rather liked the Padron Peppers (3.50). Apart from the amazing colour, they were nicely seasoned and non-greasy. An excellent bar snack. I am glad my dinner companion insisted on the Iberico de Bellota Ham (22) which was lean and beautifully flavoured. Not cheap though! I am not a ham expert at all so I can’t judge if it REALLY was worth 22 pounds. I kind of doubt it though.
The meal went downwards with the cooked dishes. We only tried a couple of them as the waitress pointed out that they recommend only 4-5 dishes per two people. I liked this actually as one tends to over-order in small plate restaurants but on the other hand we ended up with a maybe slightly imbalanced selection of dishes.
The Traditional Potato Tortilla (4.50) was tremendously bland and of soggy consistency. We didn’t like it at all. Even worse the Escalivada (5.50) which was one of the least attractive dishes I have seen in a long time. I easily forgive bad presentation if the food is good which was not the case here. The aubergines and red peppers were tasteless and drowned in olive oil. Don’t get me wrong, I love olive oil, but enough is enough!
One problem we had when ordering was that the menu is really confusing and difficult to navigate. There are ‘Tapas”, “Brindisa Classics” and “Parrilla Soho” as subheading. The dishes in each category all seemed to be tapas? As I say confusing. I do prefer the way it’s done for example at the Opera Tavern where you have Meat, Fish and Vegetarian Tapas subheadings which enables you to order a balanced selection of dishes without having to study the menu for hours. I am sure Tapas Brindisa is going to do well in the current small plate hype but I think you can do much better than that. I got a strong recommendation for Barrafina (which I never managed to go to because I don’t like queuing) and the new tapas place (Jose Tapas) in Bermondsey Street. Maybe these will finally convince me of the brilliance of the Spanish cuisine. I shall keep you posted.
- Food: 5/10
- Ambiance: 8/10
- Service: 7/10
- Value for money: 6/10
- Chances of returning: 5%
- Verdict: Mediocre and bland Spanish tapas.
For some more reviews I refer you to the London Eater who also was not too keen and to the Critical Couple who had a much better experience.